Manchu poetry in the 翻譯詞聯詩賦

While reading through the Ubaliyambuha uculen juru gisun irgebun fujurun (ch. 翻譯詞聯詩賦), a bilingual Manchu-Chinese work published in the 19th c. (1), I noticed two things:
1) a lot of the pieces in this work seem to rhyme in Manchu
2) the first uculen seemed vaguely familiar.

1) The fact that they rhyme is enough to show that despite their being translations from the Chinese, these translations are indeed genuine Manchu poems (in terms of language at least, rather than content). Apart from rhymes, it seems to me that the translator(s?) may also have tried to obey some constraints regarding verse length. For instance in the following couplet, taken from the second uculen in the first volume (f°15):

aniya aniya emu adali ningge ilha.
aniya aniya adali akūngge niyalma.

I was expecting that the parallelism begun with aniya aniya would extend to emu adali but the second verse features adali alone. Was it because less syllables were needed in the second verse for both verses of the couplet to have a matching number of syllables? I have, obviously, no competence in Manchu poetry nor in Manchu syllabification so this is just an hypothesis.

2) The first piece in the book is already known by two different recensions (one by Jakdan, the other in a BNF manuscript), as demonstrated by Brian Tawney in this post at Manjurist. The version in the Ubaliyambuha uculen juru gisun irgebun fujurun is intriguing because where the Jakdan and the BNF versions differ it offers a text that sometimes agree with the former, sometimes with the latter (2). It does also exhibit many unique features (3) which only makes the whole thing more interesting. A close comparison of the three texts seems to be in order.
The fact that this very poem was chosen to be the first one in both Jakdan’s collection and the Ubaliyambuha uculen juru gisun irgebun fujurun makes me wonder about possible links between the two works. Could Jakdan have been involved in the publication of the Ubaliyambuha uculen juru gisun irgebun fujurun?

Here is the text of the first composition as found in the Ubaliyambuha uculen juru gisun irgebun fujurun (3):

jalan de ulhibure uculen.

ai bithei urse usin i haha.
weilere faksi hūdai niyalma.
inenggidari kata fata.
niyalma banjinjifi untuhusaka.
erebe gaisu terebe gama.
hendure balama.
wesihun fusihūn de teisu bi.
jabšara ufararangge bodoro de mangga.
ai gin gu yafan i bolori edun.
u giyang birai dobori biya.
o fang gurung fulahūn.
tung kiyoo karan aba.
gemu han dan tolgin i gese tolgišaha.
yargiyan i nasacuka.
yargiyan i usacuka.
eiterecibe abka de sebjeleme hesebun be sacina.
teisu be dahame an be tuwakiya.
nenehe han amaga han sere be ai gana.
yendehe gurun gukuhe gurun sere be ai hala.
bucere hamici.
ukcara de mangga.
julgeci ebsi baturu kiyangkiyasa siran siran i ufaraha.
iletu derengge saikan ilha i dergi silenggi.
bayan wesihun orho i oilorgi gecen dabala.
jalan i baita gemu uttu oho be tuwaci.
yendere gukure be aiseme mujilen de dara.
muduri taktu garudai asari sere be joocina.
aisi jugūn gebui tangka sere be nakacina.
sula fonde ekisaka tefi.
irgebun nure i emhun sebjelecina.
emgeri gingsifi.
bedereci ai tookan.
emgeri ucun uculefi.
šanyan muke buru bara.
edun be gingsime biya be irgebume.
amtangga wangga be gaicina.
hacingga ilha ilaci alha bulha.
geren gasha guwendeci jiji jija.
eici alin i dalba.
eici mukei dalba.
bigan tala aba saha.
ere nerginde absi saišacuka.
taka emu coman i nure be wacihiya.
yasa habtašara sidende juwe ergi šulu šaraka:

————————————————————
(1) Based on the appearance of the work. There is no indication of a publication date anywhere in the book as far as I can see.
(2) To quote just a few instances among many: it shares garudai asari and han with Jakdan’s version but gaisu and šanyan muke with the BNF text.
(3) To quote, again, just a few: bodoro de, birai, ai hala, eiterecibe, etc.
(4) Line division simply follows the punctuation of the printed text and does not aim at representing Manchu verses (although the editors seem to have taken care that punctuation generally matches rhymes).

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2 thoughts on “Manchu poetry in the 翻譯詞聯詩賦

  1. I think you are right, when Manchus translated Chinese poems they were trying to make the product of the translation a poem in its own right, following some rules of versification that I don’t think have been thoroughly explored. I looked at Manchu translations of poems in the Jin Ping Mei and was surprised to find that the translator would often use a consistent number of syllables on each line of a given poem, so a 7-syllable Chinese poem could become a 19-syllable Manchu poem. The Manchu translations in the earlier Shi ging ni bithe are nowhere nearly so consistent, so presumably the conventions evolved over time.

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